Two victories, two drops in the polls. At this rate, USC can go 13-0 this season and fall out of the top 10.
At least some Trojans fans are going apocalyptic over their team's poll positions after seeing USC drop to No. 3 in the Coaches' Poll despite winning against Syracuse. A week ago, USC fell from No. 1 to No. 2 in the AP poll after drubbing Hawai'i by 39.
But you know what? Winning cures everything.
The Trojans dropped to No. 4 in this week's simulated BCS Standings, behind the two SEC powers that met for the national championship last season -- Alabama and LSU -- and also Pac-12 rival Oregon. USC's lackluster computer ratings have more to do with their current position than the eroding support in the polls as Alabama and LSU are 1-2 in most computers whereas USC is as low as 30th in the Colley Matrix.
But all this will change as the season goes on, as long as the Trojans keep winning. There is no chance that a 13-0 USC team would be kept out of the BCS national championship game.
First, a little history. In the 12 years of the BCS, only one non-Big East BCS conference champion with an unbeaten record was kept out of the title game: Auburn in 2004. That year, both USC and Oklahoma went undefeated and met in the Orange Bowl,
with the Trojans walloping the Sooners for the national championship (edit courtesy of the NCAA). Auburn finished No. 2 in both polls after squeaking by Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.
A couple of factors kept Auburn out of the BCS title game: 1) USC and Oklahoma were Nos. 1 and 2 in every single poll that season, from the preseason to the bowl season. Since neither lost a game, Auburn, which began the season at No. 17 in the AP poll, never had a chance to move past No. 3. 2) Auburn's computer ratings actually did it more damage than the polls, as it finished a distant third in the final BCS standings. The Tigers played Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech and I-AA Citadel out of conference in an already down year in the SEC. They faced only three teams that had winning records in their 11 regular-season games.
Neither is going to be an issue for the Trojans this season.
Two of the teams ahead of USC in the polls will face each other, guaranteeing that one of them will be dropped. The team immediately ahead of the Trojans - Oregon - will pay a visit to the L.A. Coliseum later this season. None of the teams behind the Trojans have a shot of jumping them as long as they keep winning.
USC's computer ratings will begin to improve, both because of its schedule and the likelihood that the Pac-12 will be a very competitive conference this season. Besides the regular-season finale against Notre Dame, the Trojans only have conference foes remaining on their schedule.
After a weekend in which the Pac-12 went 6-1 in OOC games against BCS conference opponents, it's now ranked No. 2 in Sagarin's ratings, behind only the Big 12 and ahead of the SEC. Six Pac-12 teams are ranked in Sagarin's top 20, more than any other conference. In the simulated BCS standings, the Pac-12 is tied with the SEC with five teams each in the top 25.
So the more interesting question is, will a one-loss Pac-12 champion get into the BCS title game if there is one or no undefeated teams at the end of the season? The short answer right now seems to be it's possible, even likely.
Both USC and Oregon have the unenviable task of having to play 10 conference games en route to the Pac-12 title, something no other national title contender is asked to do. And most likely it will require either team to defeat the other twice -- that's not a burden foisted upon either LSU or Alabama, as they are in the same division in the SEC. Those factors will have an impact on both the polls and computer ratings.
This is where a lack of conference championship game might be hurting the newly reconstituted Big 12, as it already did last season with Oklahoma State. Had there been a Big 12 title game a year ago, the Cowboys conceivably could've swayed enough voters to forgive its one loss. This season, an undefeated Big 12 champion might be shut out of the BCS title game if the SEC and Pac-12 champions both go on without a loss.
So if you're USC, no worries, and sleep well. But if you're an Oklahoma or WVU, maybe it's time to fidget and do some scoreboard watching.
This week's simulated BCS standings -
Keys: Pvs = Previous Week; Coach = USA Today Coaches Poll; AP = Associated Press Poll; Md = Median ranking of 29 computer ratings; CM = Colley Matrix; JS = Jeff Sagarin; KM* = Kenneth Massey MOV; RB = Richard Billingsley; Cp Avg = Computer Average.
Explanation: This rankings method is a simulation of the actual BCS standings with the following variations: 1) The AP Poll is used in place of the Harris Interactive Poll, which is not published until after the first weekend of October; 2) Four of the six BCS computer ratings are available - Colley Matrix, Jeff Sagarin, Kenneth Massey and Richard Billingsley; 3) The other two computer ratings - Anderson & Hester and Peter Wolfe - will not be available until October, so they're replaced by the median ranking of 29 computer ratings.
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